Four and a half years ago, a Corvair builder named Ed Jeffko got in his Lycoming powered Glasair and took a flight over the Cascade mountains. He never returned. An extensive search and the passage of years have found no trace.
Ed was a very lucky man. Not for how he was lost, but speaking of the life he had, and specifically the extraordinary woman he shared it with, his wife Claire. When he was missing for 6 months, Claire wrote a very impassioned letter, explaining why she supported her husbands flying, and how it defined the man she loved. The letter is printed below, and it deeply moved nearly everyone who read it. It spoke of a love that was not a selfish desire to posses, but the love that fully supports another’s spirit.
Last week, Claire wrote the letter directly below, an update four years later, to let everyone know that the love she has for Ed, and the example of how he lived has sustained and nurtured her in the passing years. It is a beautiful letter. Nearly all of us have someone, family or friend, who doesn’t understand our need to build and fly. Someone important in our lives that we have never found the right words to have them understand. Perhaps sharing Claire’s letters with these people will allow them to feel what you could not explain.
Claire’s December 2016 letter:
“Ed and our Glasair were never found. It will be five years come next July that he flew away to be with all the other “birds” that need to fly. Not want, but need to fly. Big difference. I really don’t want to have the plane found, and Ed is not there anymore. But, he is in my heart and I will always say I am married, because I am. No one could take his place. However, I grew strong by little bitty steps and somehow found myself a nice life, laughter, and a treasure trove of friends who shored me up when I could not even walk. Somehow, I knew he would be so pissed if I whined and cried forever about losing him. And, so I did what he always said “he” did…just put one foot in front of the other and keep going forward, and it worked. I learned to run our business without him, I learned how to live with out him. He taught me well. However, I have decided I will find him…when I pass I will be cremated and my ashes flung from an airplane high above the Cascades…He thinks he’s safe ! Ha! At least one molecule will find him! Life is good, and finite. I learned that the hard way. Please always remember that, and be kind and love one another. We are all in the same…well, big ass airplane! –Claire.”
The original 2012 story: Ed and Claire Jeffko, a love story.
I have exchanged a few emails with Claire Jeffko, and I asked her permission to share with you her letters about her husband Ed. I thought they are very moving letters. It made me think about how we all promise to cherish, love and support on our wedding day, but very few of us can say that we have always fulfilled our vows. Here is a letter from a woman who lived up to hers.
Last July Ed did not return from a flight in his Glasair over the Cascade mountains. It is very a rugged area, and the accident site has never been found. Many spouses in the same position would regret their loved one ever flew. Not Claire. Her letter is the finest example of how real love seeks to support the passions and dreams of a mate:
“William, Thank you for your kind response. Ed loved everything about flying and I mean everything. If he could have been a bird, he would’ve. He flew with the wind and was the most up to date and careful pilot I
have ever known.
When I first met Ed over 33 years ago, he was flying a little Cessna
150. Green. We flew every single day we could, which was often.
After we got married, we had the 150 for about four more years. Then
he traded it for a D-4 Cat to work on our property. Let me tell you,
a pilot without a plane is a sorry situation. I could only handle it
for a year and then forced the issue to buy another plane as he was
driving me crazy!!! So, we bought a Piper Cherokee which we still
have. The Piper turned Ed back into the man I knew and loved. The
man had to fly. When the Glasair kit came out we fell in love with it
and although it took more years than we wanted to complete the plane
we finished and had it signed off about two years ago. When our
grandkids saw the Glasair they were not happy. After all, we would
lug all their bikes, trikes, and assorted stuff over the mountains for 23 years. But, in the Glasair there were but two seats….Grandma and Grandpa seats. Certainly not grandchild friendly. I helped every inch of the way to build that plane and the N number was my birthday. Flying the Glasair was as close to heaven as we could get, especially with the clear canopy. We essentially were flying our dream.
And, so last July as he went to pick up one of our grandsons for the
summer, Ed and the Glasair 743CA went down in the North Cascades,
taking so many dreams with it. However, Ed was a pilot through and
through and wherever he is, I know he is flying. – Claire“
Claire also added:
“We may never find him. He and that plane were as one. But, I will search for him the rest of my life.”